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George Harrison, Prince, John Mellencamp Among 2004 Rock Hall Nominees

George Harrison, Prince, John Mellencamp and Jackson Browne are among those who’ve made the list of nominees for the 2004 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ballot, a hall of fame spokesperson confirmed Monday.

Artists are eligible for induction 25 years after the release of their first record. Criteria for consideration include “the influence and significance of the artist’s contributions to the development and perpetuation of rock and roll,” according to the organization.

Several names that have not made the hall before are back for another try, including the Sex Pistols, Lynyrd Skynyrd, ZZ Top, country rock legend Gram Parsons, Bob Seger, the Stooges, Traffic, Patti Smith and early R&B groups the Dells and the “5” Royales. Despite Ozzy Osbourne’s attempts to take them off the ballot in 1999, Black Sabbath are back for another attempt, too, though Osbourne has said he thinks the honor is “meaningless.”

Already a member as part of the Beatles, if chosen, George Harrison would be inducted on the merits of his solo work. Harrison, who died of cancer in November 2001, would be the third Beatle to make the grade, as John Lennon and Paul McCartney have already been inducted into the hall. The Beatles’ lead guitarist was the first in the group to go solo, releasing his triple-album debut, All Things Must Pass, in 1970, which featured the hit “My Sweet Lord.”

Throughout his 25-year career, Prince has confounded as much as he has entertained, but the divinely nasty legend from Minneapolis has created some of the most enduring funk-soul jams in music history along the way. Beginning with 1978’s For You and peaking in the ’80s with such landmark albums as 1999, Purple Rain and Around the World in a Day, Prince melded the worlds of screaming rock guitar solos with dance music, pop and R&B, with lyrics that unabashedly exposed his carnal desires.

Indiana’s John Mellencamp began his career as generic pop singer Johnny Cougar in 1976, but over the course of nearly 30 years in music has become one of the more respected singer/songwriters of his generation. Initially dismissed as a Bruce Springsteen wannabe, Mellencamp hit his stride in the early ’80s with such rock-radio staples as “Jack and Diane” and “Hurts So Good.” He soon became known as a chronicler of the plight of the downtrodden American farmer and worker, with such folk-inspired albums as Scarecrow and The Lonesome Jubilee. Along with Neil Young and Willie Nelson, Mellencamp helped found the annual Farm Aid concert benefiting small American farms.

Quintessential 1970s California singer/songwriter Jackson Browne began his career in the late ’60s, but didn’t come to widespread prominence until 1976’s The Pretender, which set the stage for his most popular release, 1977’s Running on Empty. That album featured the hit title track as well as “Stay/The Load-Out,” a ballad that became the template for nearly every “life on the road” tune that followed.

Ballots for this year’s nominations were mailed out last week to the voting members of the rock hall, with inductees slated to be announced before the end of the year. The process begins in the spring, when a group of 75 industry professionals made up of record executives, lawyers, managers, journalists and musicians meet to brainstorm potential nominees. Their list is pared down to fewer than 20, with five to eight inductees chosen by a committee made up of 1,500 voters from throughout the music industry. The performers who receive the highest number of votes, and more than 50 percent of the vote, are inducted.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is located in Cleveland. A date and location for the 2004 ceremony has not yet been announced.

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